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Author Topic: Playtesting my homemade Survival Horror. (few questions inside as well as detail  (Read 4186 times)

Posts: 36

« on: January 24, 2011, 09:11:22 AM »

It started off basic. The first ideas were

-You can be killed instantly
-Weapons are everywhere (just not things you'd always want)
-End of the world theme
-Characters must sleep and eat

What started off as a man running through the subways for his life trying to survive through some kind of explosion has turned into day to day, night to night, terrors.

At first when we started play I didn't include much outside assistance. No jump out scares. Just basic tension build up with weak release.

Second game we introduced a new character. At that point in time I had realized how I could keep the tension going, while making their heart pound. I introduced our day and night system.

-During the day I leave all normal lights on
-At night, I kill the room lights and light three candles (I also put a black sheet over the window)
-During the night, as the real darkness sets in, I blow out the candles, one, by, one.
-Players are then allowed to use their cell phones as lights, or flashlights if they've found one

During the 3candle night, my players decided to hole up in an apartment complex. They split up to check for food and supplies, I thought their splitting up was a blessing from the heavens and sent in my monsters

-They Run
-Their not quite dead
-Their stupid and drawn to light and sound
-their powerful, put not much more than a normal person
-human like

28 days later doesn't have @%!* on my next hurdle.
One man is locked in the bathroom
the other in an apartment on the second story.
Eventually I get some good ideas on how to get their hearts racing.

I had fish tank beads from walmart in the room with us I used at markers for ap and other things....
I began to use them to make noises and a few other things. I laid a piece of plexiglass by my side.

As the creatures began to scratch at the door downstairs I'd swish the beads around on the table. When they'd bang on the door I slam my hand down. If something was around the room I'd throw the beads at the wall or toss them in the air.

I'm sure this is nothing new to alot of you lol.

Either way, After that I employed my computer. I make music all the time and have a full studio inside my house. So I took my wireless keyboard and used it to trigger sounds in the room and play atmospheric music (stolen shamelessly from silent hill 2 mostly)
I also stuck bailing wire out of my power drill and scratched along the surface of a peice of wood then hit the trigger for an effect that gave one of my players nightmares.

After throwing a few more enemys at them namely the Hammer man (Large man with a hood on, one eye, and his mouth sewn shut, in a loin cloth carrying a rather large sledge like hammer) They managed to survive through till daylight. Which they believe is their only hope during the night. Until I threw the most obscure storm at them, which blots the sun out of the sky as if commanded by the moon itself.

We added in 3 more people. This is where things are getting difficult. I don't want to kill players, but its going to happen. But with 5 people playing at once, How do I keep the pressure up? Outside of random noises or water squirters. I employed a countdown also. When asking a player what they would like to do in a situation with little time, I hold my hand out and begin to count. At 5 or 3 I move on to the next player. I noticed a few of the players would say "Im going with him," or "Whatever he's doing." Should I eliminate that as an answer? The tension I had when the two characters were split is probably the best scene I've had. How can I still get that excitement with 5 players? Do you think it was the thought of being alone with help so close by but no chance?

Shortly after escaping a car garage being flooded by monstrous people, they made it to a convenience store. When they decided to leave, they poked their head out to see a hammer man walking away from the building. During an uproar about what to do, the main character (our first player) decided to play hero and attack the Hammer Man. The group didn't pay any attention due to arguing about their next steps. The player was hit and tossed across the street, breaking his arm and severely injuring him. A girl stepped out with a pistol from a a friend and managed to kill the Hammer man in one shot between the eyes. Lucky Jerk.....

If theres any more methods others could bring up let me know. If theres any more info you guys need to help assist me in understanding the correct way to tell these stories also, let me know.
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 17707

« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2011, 06:16:07 PM »

Hey man, the last thing you need is anyone else you how to achieve the game-experience you're through using ambient performance techniques. It sounds to me like you are the go-to source on that topic.

The only question to consider is how well this worked in general - did tension release moments really create a powerful closure, or were the players more like baby birds demanding more and more performance?

Also, please provide a link to a working document of some kind for your game. It doesn't have to be the total work itself or even a draft of a manuscript, but it does need to include enough rules so we can tell what parts of your account are "rules," i.e., required game procedures.

Best, Ron

Posts: 36

« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2011, 09:07:29 AM »

Unfortunately I have no place to create a link from. I hope I can type out a basic idea of the rules to help the situation

Character stats are as follows currently.

-Death % (1-100) A percentile to determine, when hit, whether or not your character has died from a possible Killing blow. Rolling above your D% is an instant death. (Killing blows being to the head or body, hit location determined by a D6 while rolling Hit/Miss)
-Melee/Ranged (Seperated of course) (1-100) The chance of making contact with a target using a melee or ranged attack. They are seperate on the char sheet, I put them together for easier explanation.
-Food (100% at start for all chars) This is more of a gauge, it shows you how hungry your characters are, at increments of 25% you begin to suffer penalties.
-Sleep (100% also) Same as food except for sleep
-Luck (1-100) just a basic way of judging who gets the short end of the stick, or the long sharp end of the pole.
Those are most of the stats, I will post more when I get the booklet in front of me.

Each character has the potential of 6 wounds. After being hit you roll a D6 to see how harsh the hit was. At 6 wounds your character dies. (Wounds on your arms or legs are broken bones and compound fractures. Eventually leaving the limb useless permanently)


I also run off an AP system again. (MY FAV!)
Weapons are easy to use and come up with stats by the GM quickly.

1 handed melee

2 Handed melee

using this little chart, (with a few other numbers in it which I'll post later.) You can determine how powerful a weapon is.

Damage only goes up to 10ish I believe. When you are hit, the damage you take is subtracted from your D% until your wounds are healed.

Ron, You had asked if these releases were really satisfying. YES.
My friends haven't jumped that hard in a long while. I've used the same method more than once and still had the same effect. Eventually, if the tension is brought about right, the release will make the player want to stop, or at least take a break. Like watching a horror movie that scares you to the point of hitting the pause button. I'm just looking for more ideas on the effects so I can have a vast arsenal. That way they never know whats coming.

Devon Oratz

Posts: 75

« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2011, 11:56:06 AM »

I do enjoy these kinds of physical theatrics at the table (distinct from LARP) when I get them to work on my players, but what I find is that people have to express a special kind of willingness and cooperation to be scared. The right atmosphere when you have created it can be a fragile thing, easily disrupted by too many people, or by the presence of the wrong people, or even just the wrong attitudes. I am actually focusing on a very deep immersion, highly psychologically disturbing campaign now, so I'm interested in these techniques. My mood and genre differ, obviously, but I'm using a few of the same methods.

Your actual rules that you've listed are a bit confusing. For instance, I am unclear on how health and damage work or what kinds of dice they involve.

~"Quiet desperation, it ain't my goddamn scene!"~
My Blog: tarotAmerican

Posts: 36

« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 12:57:33 PM »

Most of the dice rolls are %. I like % because it gives you a real idea of the chance your taking.
There is no such thing as health. To keep the characters on their toes I have given them 6 "Wounds" which I would suppose pile up like health, but along with being hurt, you have to roll a Death %, rolling over it causes your character to die instantly. Also, accumulating 6 wounds kills your character from blood loss. Everything is D10 or %D. The only thing you roll a different die for is D6 for where you hit, if you hit. Remember that hitting legs and arms do not kill unless by blood loss later.
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